Iceland Day 3 : Walking the Fairy Tale


The next day also dawned bleakly but this certainly did not deter us nor did it make any difference to the surreal scenery we would encounter. I woke up very early at 4am and ventured out into the stormy weather up to the rocky peninsula of Reynisfjall which looms over Vik. The winding gravel path up was definitely not one for a 2wD; even in the vitara I was fearful of the sheer drops, the track condition and potential loss of control. If I had more time, I would have loved hiking up this trail but sadly ,time wasn’t  a luxury we had that much of this trip (or at least, it wasn’t a luxury that we afforded ourselves). From atop reynisfjall, the views directly down on the sea stacks of Reynisdrangur flanked by thousands of birds is worth the dangerous drive up. As is the view of Dyrholaey in the distance along a straight stretch of black beach. Crawling along the edge of the cliffs along my belly was certainly an experience to counter my fear of heights.

View of Dyrhoaley from atop Reynisfjall - Straight black beaches for miles.

View of Dyrhoaley from atop Reynisfjall - Straight black beaches for miles.

Dizzying views of the sea stacks from atop the cliffs

Dizzying views of the sea stacks from atop the cliffs

After my little dizzying stint in the morning I came back to find Marianne still peacefully sleeping with the aid of her eyepatches. Actaully, the entire hostel was still asleep! I was left wondering if I would get a single night of thorough sleep this trip– I guess my body clock found it more difficult to adjust hence my difficulty with night shifts back home. We drove backward that morning to spend time on Reynisfjara and stayed there for a couple of hours. There were a couple of dogs nearby who took a liking to us and followed us wherever we went along the beach. There were many highlights here – from the swirling hundreds of birds nesting in the sheer cliffs above us, the almost man made basalt columns and caves, the pure black sand and of course, looming in the distance was Dyrholaey. We were told that there were dead whales beached further up but did not feel up to viewing that rather morbid scene.

Marianne contemplating flying from the pillars

Marianne contemplating flying from the pillars

Along the road there we noticed that there were curious cairns piled by the roadside which stayed upright despite sweeping winds. The name of this area , we found later ; “Laufskalarvartha”. Each passer by is supposed to place a new cairn in the field to mark the devastation that occurred during volcanic eruptions of the distant past. The lava fields covered with moss framed by gloomy horizons were stuff of vivid imagination rather than reality. After battling the wind to place our good-luck cairn, we drove on wondering just how much of iceland was covered in this eerie Grimm brothers type landscape.

Moss on lava rock - a common sight along the roads - in Iceland anyway.

Moss on lava rock - a common sight along the roads - in Iceland anyway.

Along the ring road to our left, we then spotted the Fjardrargljufur. A complicated name for a very spooky looking canyon. At its origin, flows a pleasant stream but as one climbs the 2 km route, the canyon takes a demented turn for the nightmarish worse. Promontories protrude with nonsensical angles and tufts of rock covered with moss which make the whole scene look somewhat abstract and dali-esque. Fantastic location to take those ‘hey look at me I’’m on the edge of a cliff’ type of shots. Even in the rain, we were so absorbed with this canyon that we stayed there for a couple of hours. The route in is not too difficult – along the F206 just after the turn off for the F road (contrary to what lonely planet told us). We also had this site entirely to ourselves.

Taking the shot of the canyon

Taking the shot of the canyon.

maz-fjardrargljufur-1369

Kirkjugolf lies a little north of the town Kirjubaejarklauster. Some people online had described it as a tourist trap but really I had no such sentiment after seeing it for myself. Especially on a wet and rainy April day when we had the site all to ourselves, one could hardly call it tourist trapping at all ! To get here, one simply takes a north fork out of the above mentioned town until a sign points to what seems to be an empty field. It’s strange formation of hexagonal stones in the ground that resembles a foundation. Twiggy and Chip had their moment of glory on the rocks before we moved on further north out of town.

the basalt 'church floor' at Kirkjugolf

the basalt 'church floor' at Kirkjugolf

Stjornafoss is another one of those little gems that we happened to stumble across with the aid of my previous extensive internet searching of things to see in Iceland. It’s a lovely waterfall just 1 minute drive north of the kirkjugolf enclosure. At its base, there is a dome shaped rock which gives these falls a very characteristic appearance. I tried getting a video of myself performing pyong won – a third dan tae kwon do form but will never show this disgraceful video to anyone.

Beautiful stjornafoss lies unappreciated by many

Beautiful stjornafoss lies unappreciated by many .

Further along the ring road in gloomy weather, many waterfalls cascaded to the base of sheer cliffs to our left. One particularly striking one was foss-a-sidu. Very picturesque once again and a fall that I had found on world of waterfalls.com . In the spring gloom and orange fields , it looked strikingly different to the greenery I had seen on previous images which added so much more to its charm. The rugged appearance as we saw it however is quite unique I think. We soaked ourselves thoroughly but thanks to our waterproofs, we didn’t feel the cold at all. Right next to these falls were the basalt columns of dverghamrar which also deserve mention mainly because from the road, you cannot see them and one could easily pass them by as another tourist trap. Not so! These columns appear man made until you read the signs which explain their geological origins. It reminded me of ironforge from World of Warcraft or something out of Moria fro Lord of the Rings.

Dverghamrar - natural or man made?

Dverghamrar - natural or man made?

the lovely lower section of foss-a-sidu

the lovely lower section of foss-a-sidu

Finally, our resting place for the night would be Hvoll HI hostel. This fantastic place in the  middle of nowhere is probably the closest hostel type accommodation to Skaftafell national park and judging by its size and modern facilities (eg sensor lights , automatic hand dryers etc) it likely caters for many many people, or its owners have a ton of spare time on their hands! We had this massive place to ourselves and enjoyed it thoroughly. Sleep came quickly that night and for once I slept until about 5am, uninterrupted by the greyed out sun, gale winds and many geese in the area.

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Posted on May 23, 2009, in Iceland, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. ahhh beautiful. thanks for taking the time to narrate the trip. It’s good when you get a moment to soak up the environment. You hope that it’s burnt in the back of your memory so that you can dream about it someday.

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